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SciFi Movies Turned Real: 10 Emerging Technologies

The Global Agenda Council on Emerging Technologies (GACET) has recently published a paper which presents in detail 10 technological breakthroughs that could reshape the future.

It is the council’s hope that its efforts will raise awareness of these advances in technology and help secure the funding required to make the dreams come true.

Of the 10 breakthroughs discussed in the article we will summarize only those that might have an impact on Fortech’s activities or on the lives of its personnel.

1. Body-Adapted Wearable Electronics

Google Glass, the Fitbit wristband, and other wearable technology have been applied so far in the health and fitness industry to monitor various parameters of our bodies (e.g. heart rate, sleep patterns). The new trend for such devices is to be virtually invisible and fitted with a wide range of sensors and a feedback system. Examples include earbuds for heart rate monitoring, sensors that track posture, and haptic shoe soles that guide blind people through vibration alerts felt by the feet. Google Glass has already been applied in surgeries performed by oncologists to provide the physicians with visual information like medical records at voice commands.

2. Screenless Display

Born from the need to simplify the interaction with miniaturized devices like smartphones, screenless displays can already be projected onto a surface for users to interact with, just like the holographic images from Science Fiction movies. Retinal displays can also safeguard privacy by projecting images directly onto the user’s retina, so that others don’t have access to them. It is expected that technology that transmits visual information directly to the brain, through synaptic information, bypassing the retina, will be available in the near future. Bionic contact lenses, virtual reality headsets, hologram-like videos without the need for moving parts or glasses, and mobile phones for the partially blind are living proof these technologies are advancing at breakneck speed.

3. Brain – computer Interfaces

Who wouldn’t like to avoid the tedious tasks of memorizing information at school or at work. While such an achievement may still seems pure fiction to many, researchers from MIT university proved we have good reasons to dream by having successfully implanted a false memory into the brain of a mouse in 2013. Connecting two brains over the Internet is no longer a myth either, since researchers at Duke University successfully linked the brains of two mice (into a “brain net”) from different countries to perform simple tasks through remote cooperation, while scientists at Harvard University established a functional link between the brains of a human and a rat using a non-invasive computer-to-brain interface. Quadriplegics or people who have had a stroke can control their wheelchairs or drink coffee from a cup using only their brain waves, while direct brain implants have partially reversed the vision loss in blind people. Only our limited imaginations can prevent us from envisioning countless other uses for this truly amazing technology.

4. Human Microbiome Therapeutics

The microbe ecosystem from the human gut (the gut microbiome) as a promoter of health or underlying cause of chronic diseases lies at the heart of these therapies. Modern medicine and unhealthy eating habits can cause imbalances in the gut flora, which often lead to diseases with high mortality or morbidity. Microbiome therapeutics addresses these imbalances by delivering to the subjects a subset of microbes found in a typical healthy gut. Results have been no less than spectacular, of which the long lasting remissions from chronic conditions achieved repeatedly stand out.

5. RNA Based Therapeutics

These therapies aim at injecting specific mRNA in patients which would turn the patient’s own cells into healing agents, by temporarily coaxing them to behave like the proteins that deliver the therapeutic effect. Several private companies working, large pharmaceutical companies, and the academia combine their efforts to deliver a new generation of RNA-based drugs that are expected to replace ineffective conventional therapies in the treatment of the most diverse diseases.

6. The quantified-self movement

“The Quantified Self[1] is a movement to incorporate technology into data acquisition on aspects of a person’s daily life in terms of inputs (e.g. food consumed, quality of surrounding air), states (e.g. mood, arousal, blood oxygen levels), and performance (mental and physical). Such self-monitoring and self-sensing, which combines wearable sensors (EEG, ECG, video, etc.) and wearable computing, is also known as lifelogging. ”

Source: Wikipedia

Using records of people’s activities from smartphones and sensors (e.g. from cars), companies and institutions can gain invaluable insights into consumer behaviour and apply the knowledge thus gathered to develop predictive models about people and their behaviours for ambitious projects like urban planning, personalized medicine, sustainability and medical diagnosis. For example, a team at Carnegie Mellon University has been using smartphone data on sleep patterns and changes in social relationships to predict the onset of depression. In other researches the patterns of movement through urban spaces are studied in an attempt to simplify and improve the urban planning process.

Those interested in getting detailed information on all the top 10 emerging technologies should read the full article.

We invite all of you who happen to know or learn about other technical breakthroughs which Fortech might turn into lucrative products or that could make a difference in the lives of our team to share them with us via email. We will then prepare summaries like this one and post all the news we consider relevant for our community on Facebook and Google+.

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